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5.2 Definitions for Leading Causes of Death Reports

This section provides definitions of data elements in WISQARSTM Fatal’s leading causes of death reports. The elements include census region / state of residence, year(s) of report, race, Hispanic origin, and sex. The advanced options include number of causes, categories of causes, and age group formatting. Also, leading causes of death reports allow you to access profiles of specific causes of injury according to intent (e.g., unintentional, suicide), and obtain the number of injury-related deaths by underlying-cause-of-death International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes.

Leading causes of death reports list causes using abbreviated names. To ensure you understand the meaning of these names, check the tables displaying the WISQARS abbreviated names and their corresponding full names:

5.2.1 Data Element: Census Region / State of Residence

Data reported by census region or state are based on where the deceased lived (state of residence). Census regions are as follows:

 

Census regions are as follows
Census Region States
Northeast CT MA ME NH NJ NY PA RI VT
South AL AR DC DE FL GA KY LA MD MS NC OK SC TN TX VA WV
Midwest IA IL IN KS MI MN MO ND NE OH SD WI
West AK AZ CA CO HA ID MT NM NV OR UT WA WY

 

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5.2.2 Data Element: Year(s) of Report

You can request a leading causes of death report for data from 1999 and later or for 1981 to 1998. If you desire a report for a single year, enter the same year in both of the Year(s) of Report fields (e.g., 1997 to 1997). Be aware that selecting a large number of years at a time may require a long response time. Also, note that you cannot request a report for 1999 and later and any year from 1981 to 1998. The external cause of injury coding for 1999 and later years, based on the ICD-10 classification system, is notably different from external cause coding for 1998 and earlier years, based on the ICD-9 classification system. You may not be able to compare accurately numbers of deaths and death rates computed for some external causes of injury based on 1999 and later data to those based on data from 1998 and earlier. Consequently, use caution when doing trend analysis of numbers of deaths and death rates across these years. For more information, see Data Sources.

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5.2.3 Data Element: Race

WISQARS Fatal reports race data in six categories:

  • All races
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native
  • Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Black
  • White
  • Other races.

For data from 1992 on, the Other Races category represents all non-white and non-black races and includes American Indian/Alaskan Native and Asian/Pacific Islander categories.

For data prior to 1992, the All Other Races category applied to people who didn’t correspond to any of the other four categories and were limited to a few hundred cases per year (approximately 0.02%). Beginning in 1992, this category is imputed using the race category from the previous record. Because the All Other Races category was used before 1992, deaths from Other Races may not add up to the number of deaths for American Indian/Alaskan Native and Asian/Pacific Islander categories for the years prior to 1992.

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5.2.4 Data Element: Hispanic Origin

Hispanic origin includes persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American, and other or unknown Spanish origin. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

In 1990, reporting of Hispanic origin on death certificates occurred in all but three states–Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. From 1990 through 1996, Hispanic origin data from those three states were excluded for those years when their reporting level was not sufficient for comparing with the other states.

In February of 2002, NCHS discovered a problem with its underlying mortality data concerning the number of Hispanics in Alabama. In that year there were 127 deaths originally coded as Hispanics that should have been coded as Non-Hispanic (see reference). The 127 Hispanics represent approximately 60% of all the Hispanic deaths in Alabama for 1990. As a result, we have changed all the Hispanic Origin data to “Unknown” for Alabama for 1990. For more information, see Vital Statistics of the United States, 1990, Volume II, Mortality, Part A.

Hispanic Origin data is missing or unknown for approximately 20% of the data from Connecticut for 1990. However this will not likely have a noticeable impact on the numbers reported. Additionally there was some miscoding of the underlying NCHS mortality data that was discovered for Connecticut in 1991. These miscodings concerned Mexicans who were coded as Puerto Ricans and Puerto Ricans who were coded as Mexicans (see reference). Since WISQARS reports ethnicity only as Hispanic, these miscoded data were not deemed to significantly impact the results from WISQARS. For more information, see Vital Statistics of the United States, 1990, Volume II, Mortality, Part A.

All states provided Hispanic origin data at sufficient levels for comparability starting in 1997. Including a state’s Hispanic origin data does not imply that Hispanic origin reporting for a state was at 100%, however. As a result, the number of deaths for Hispanics and non-Hispanics may not equal total deaths.

The table below shows the states that did not provide sufficient reporting of Hispanic origin data and the year(s) that their Hispanic data are excluded.

 

The table below shows the states that did not provide sufficient reporting of Hispanic origin data and the year(s) that their Hispanic data are excluded
States Year(s) Excluded
Louisiana 1990
New Hampshire 1990-1992
Oklahoma 1990-1996

When a state’s data were excluded from analysis, both the population and the number of deaths were excluded from any calculation.

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5.2.5 Data Element: Sex

Options for the sex category are males only, females only, or both.

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5.2.6 Data Element: Output Option

The output option allows you to display your report in one of three formats: standard, printer-friendly, and text-only. The standard format provides links to additional information such as the total number of deaths and a breakdown of the types of death for a specific cause of injuries. The printer-friendly option does not provide these links and is geared for printing and/or downloading to your PC. The text only option provides the information without color coding but still has all of the links as the standard output option.

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5.2.7 Advanced Report Options

Number of Causes
These interactive reports allow you to rank up to 20 causes of death. The default number of rankings is 10. Sometimes a specific cause (such as homicide) may not fall in the top 10 causes. If you’re looking for a specific cause, you may need to increase the rankings to have the cause you want displayed.

Categories of Causes
This option allows you to limit your report to specific categories. You can choose between all deaths, injury only, unintentional injury only, and violence-related (consisting of suicide, homicide and legal intervention deaths). Only the all-death category allow the number of injury deaths by individual underlying-cause-of-death ICD codes to be obtained.

Age Group Formatting
This formatting option allows you to select the range of the age groups in the Leading Causes of Death Report to meet your information needs. Separate formats allow you to create smaller age ranges for young adults and for the elderly.

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5.2.8 Profiles of Specific Causes of Injury

In the report, specific unintentional injury, suicide, or homicide causes are hyperlinked. By clicking on a link, you can view more information about the number of deaths from the specific causes that comprise the overall category, also displayed by a bar chart. For instance, clicking on suicide deaths shows the number of deaths from subcategories such as cutting/piercing, fall, firearm, etc. and show a corresponding bar chart for the specific age group. From this output screens details on the underlying-cause-of0deaths ICD codes may be obtained by clicking on the colored boxes. (Note: Output screens use window pop-ups, For optimal performance, adjust browser settings to disable pop-up blockers. The preferred setting for displaying graphs and charts is 1024 X 768 pixels. For data prior to 1999, the subcategories are based on the Recommended Framework for Presenting Injury Mortality DataCdc-pdf6 (RequiresAdobe AcrobatExternal). For data in 1999 and following, the subcategories are based on the ICD-10 injury mortality frameworkCdc-pdf.

Also, the age group categories at the top of the report are hyperlinked. By clicking on a link, you can get the total number of deaths and the number of deaths for each cause in that age group.

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WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports